Arsip Tag: mollys

molly’s dry-rubbed ribs – smitten kitchen

[My friend Molly made the most amazing ribs on Memorial Day. Prior to Monday, I thought I liked mopped, or barbecue sauced-up ribs. I am now officially a dry rub convert, and begged her to let us know how she did it. Thanks Molly!–Deb]

I started making these ribs last summer. I got inspired by an amazing BBQ I attended in Bed-Stuy at my friend Antoine’s friend Pete’s house. Pete has six jumbo grills with attached smokers or something ridiculous like that. At that BBQ, I think he smoked so much meat in his backyard that he probably violated some kind of zoning ordinance. The buffet table in the backyard groaned under the weight of at least half a dozen BBQ competition trophies. Pete is a serious BBQ chef. It was the first truly delicious BBQ pork I’d eaten since I had moved to NYC after living in North Carolina for two years.

hard-working tongs

Now I must provide the obligatory rant on my BBQ predilections/prejudices: I enjoy a tangy red sauce as much as anyone else. I especially love Ina Garten’s Barbecue Sauce that Deb introduced me to: brushed on a chicken thigh over a charcoal fire, it’s wonderful. But in my opinion, tomato-containing sauce of any kind does not belong on pork BBQ. It took just two years in Orange County, NC, home of the Tar Heels and the inimitable Allen & Sons Barbecue, to convince me of this.

the smoker

There is only one way to do right by pork: cover it with a simple, spicy-sweet dry rub. Let it sit for a while. Slowly cook it in smoky, indirect heat, using a wood fire or natural charcoal, until the meat is tender enough to melt in your mouth. Then go hawg wild. It’s best to enjoy the meat without any sauce, at least at first. Sometimes, if I am in the mood, I will add a hot pepper vinegar to my pulled pork, but only after I eat some of it unsauced. I never add any sauce to ribs.

molly's dry-rubbed ribs

So one day last summer, after having grilled Pete on his BBQ technique (pun intended), I decided to try my hand at some spareribs. My first attempt was an astounding success, thanks in great part to some excellent instructions in the latest edition of the Joy of Cooking (recipe adapted below), as well as the wisdom of Master Pete. I added my own special technique along the way: dousing the ribs with Magic Hat No. 9 several times during the cooking process. This mixes with the dry rub to form a delectable crust on the outside of the ribs. Magic Hat No. 9 is a medium-bodied beer with an apricot flavor and aroma, so it mixes perfectly with the pork and the flavors in the rub.

molly's ribs

When you get these ribs right, the thinner pieces of meat hanging off the small end of the rack may have a spicy, very smoky, firm (but not dry) quality, while the meat in between the biggest ribs will be milder and meltingly tender. Make sure everyone gets at least one nice big fat rib. I personally like the chewier end pieces–they are almost like high-end jerky. I like all of it. It makes me well up with emotion.


Southern Style Dry Rub
Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition

Molly’s notes: These ribs don’t need sauce. In fact, to sauce these ribs would be an abomination, so I don’t want to hear about it. Commenters who espouse gumming up these ribs with sauce will be scorned. By me. Deb will still be nice to them, but she’s nicer than I am.

You can make this less spicy by omitting the ground red (cayenne) pepper. You can make it more straightforward by omitting the cumin. I use nutmeg instead of mace, because who has mace sitting around their kitchen? Not me.

The ribs go really well with basic coleslaw–nothing too fancy. Deb made some scrumptious slaw for Memorial Day, and some tasty BBQ beans too. Hush puppies would have been great, too, but we don’t have a deep fat-fryer at Jocelyn’s place, unfortunately.

Makes about 2 cups of dry rub

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika (sweet or hot)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons ground red pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns

Make your spice rub and cover those ribs in it ASAP. The longer they sit in the spices, the better, but let them sit at least an hour. Let them sit up to 24 hours if you want. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them until it’s almost time to put them on the grill. You can let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes or so before starting the BBQ process.

These ribs take about 3 hours total cooking time, sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on how hot your fire is and how thick the slabs of ribs are. [More detailed instructions below.]

Everything You Need to Know to Buy, Prep and Cook the Ribs

Buying Ribs: I use St. Louis-style ribs, because you get more meat for your money. When you smoke these babies for as long as three hours, you end up with a completely tender result, though the meat on baby-back ribs is technically “more tender.” I am feeding a crowd of hungry, eager people when I do this, and I would have to spend twice as much money (read: over $100) on meat if I used baby-back instead of St. Louis-style ribs. Plus there wouldn’t be enough room on the grill to make dinner for everyone. You have to eat at least six baby-back ribs to be happy, as opposed to three St. Louis-style’s. For my first experiments with BBQ, I used the pre-packaged racks of ribs that are available in most supermarkets’ meat departments for about $12 apiece, but the fresher they are, the better. In fact, I would advise you to ask your butcher when (s)he gets deliveries of fresh ribs, and plan your BBQ-ing accordingly.

Prepping the Ribs: I don’t cut out the connective tissue/membrane before cooking. I realize there is a massive, contentious debate about this in BBQ-ing circles, but I don’t really have an opinion on the matter, other than (1) it seems tricky and time-consuming; (2) I don’t know how; (3) I can’t imagine that the ribs could be any more tender. The membrane basically breaks down during the cooking process. Maybe it leaves a bit of a ultra-thin, crispy remnant on the bone side of the ribs. I don’t know. I don’t feel the need to perform this surgery. It seems like an unnecessary fuss if you ask me. Well, it looks like maybe I did have an opinion on the matter, doesn’t it? I like the membrane, OK? I like the crispy little membrane wafer you get when you’re done.

Cooking the Ribs:

  • Indirect heat is essential, and you don’t want the fire to be too hot. You cannot expect ecstasy if you rush ribs. I use my friend Jocelyn’s big charcoal grill with a smoker attachment. If stupid party-crashers want to throw things on the grill while you are tending to your precious pork, the smoker attachment is good because they can use that fire for direct heat, leaving the ribs to cook undisturbed in the bigger chamber of the grill. Just make sure they don’t leave the lid of the smoker attachment hanging open when they do this, or the ribs won’t get enough heat.
  • I build two fires: one in the smoker attachment, and another one on the opposite end of the larger chamber. The ribs go in between the two fires. There’s enough room for three racks of ribs. Recently my friend Darren, a seasoned grillmaster, advised me to get a rib rack so I could make more ribs at once. I think this is because he has not yet been able to truly pig out on ribs to his heart’s content. I did buy one of these devices at Home Depot the other day, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t report on how it works. If any of you readers have experience with the rib rack, I would be very interested to hear about it. (I got the kind that holds your ribs up on their sides, vertically, kind of.)
  • Starting the fire: Darren usually starts the fire at Jocelyn’s, but I have been known to do this on occasion as well. We might start the fire with Match Light, just to get things going, but then we switch to natural hardwood charcoal. I get this at Whole Foods. You should have at least a couple bags of charcoal on hand whenever you make BBQ so you can continue to feed the fire. I also use mesquite or applewood chips (not charcoal) soaked with water to create smoke. These are available at Whole Foods as well, or at Williams-Sonoma, but if you buy them at Williams-Sonoma you might as well experiment with throwing dampened dollar bills on your fire. I add these (wood chips, not cash) three or four times along the way. I just throw a few handfuls on top of the fire in the smoker attachment, batten down the hatches and let the ribs bathe in smoky goodness. I honestly don’t know what the temperature inside the main grill chamber is. Darren speculated that it’s probably between 225 and 250 degrees, but this BBQ-ing business is an inexact science at best. If you are all wrapped around your thermometer, you’re not embracing the essential aspects of BBQ’s allure: the primal, the low-tech, the intuitive. Imagine yourself as Luke Skywalker, practicing the lightsaber blindfolded aboard the Millennium Falcon…
  • Grilling the ribs: Once you have two nice piles of glowing hardwood coals, you put your ribs on the grill, meat-side down to start. Turn them over every 30 minutes. Every time the meat side faces up after turning, I lightly pour Magic Hat over the ribs. (Reserve at least three bottles for this purpose, and label them so your drunkard friends don’t sabotage your project.) Don’t dump the beer all over the ribs all at once–you want to kind of sprinkle it so it doesn’t wash away all the spice rub. Also, when I turn the ribs over, I reposition them on the grill. Rack 1 goes where Rack 2 was, Rack 3 goes where Rack 2 was, Rack 2 goes where Rack 3 was. This corrects for any differences in temperature within the grill chamber. For the same reason, I also turn the ribs so the small and large ends of the rack are facing different ways during the cooking process. The smaller ends get done a little bit more quickly than the big fat parts of the racks.
  • Checking for doneness: The best way to tell if the ribs are done is to take a big pair of tongs and try to kind of twist the rack of ribs around a bit. If it holds firmly together and feels resilient, it’s either not done yet or you cooked it at too high a temperature and you completely screwed it up–better luck next time. If done right, the ribs should start to separate when you twist the rack. In other words, one should not need teeth to eat this meat.

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molly’s apple tarte tatin – smitten kitchen

[Psst! There’s a newer, more perfect version of this recipe over here.]

[Guest post by Molly] You remember Molly, right? This summer, she shared her secrets for awesome, dry-rubbed ribs. (I still dream about them, I really do.) Well, Molly also makes a killer apple tarte tatin, one of my favorite desserts and she was kind enough to come over to my apartment last week and demonstrate–you wouldn’t believe how amazing it smelled. Here she tells you how she did it, in her own words. Thanks Molly!

peeling the applescoring the apples

The beginning of apple season this year found me in Highlands, North Carolina. The Forest Service had just finished a new hiking trail, the trailhead just steps away from my parents’ cabin. Dad, Sophie the doggie and I hiked along the trail until it opened up into a rolling field with rows of huge old McIntosh apple trees–the remnants of an old farm, it seemed, with some abandoned garden flowers still blooming, even. The apple trees were long untended–even overgrown in places with blackberry brambles–but still sagging with delicious fruit. We stopped and filled our backpacks. If there’s anything my Dad loves more than food in general, it’s free food, so he was thrilled.

dicing the butterrolling out lid/base

Back at the cabin, I made a baked apple dessert and 2 quarts of applesauce. It was the end of a weekend of epic feasting, largely thanks to the efforts of Smitten AKA the Best Houseguest Ever. [Ed note: Aww.] So the thought of a Tarte Tatin, my favorite apple dessert, seemed gluttonous, as it contains more than two sticks of butter. I would have to save it for another time.

sizing the crustcombine butter and sugar

Several weeks later, I’m still up to my ears in apples here in NYC. The Greenmarkets are bursting with them, and even my humble neighborhood grocery, the Associated Supermarket on Avenue C, has piles of 5-pound bags of New York apples at bargain-basement prices. Jocelyn invited a bunch of us over for wine and cheese recently, and I had a date to impress. It was time to make the Tarte Tatin.

caramelizing the applesflip the apples over

Joy is the source for my Tarte Tatin recipe, except I make an all-butter pate brisée instead of their recommended combination of a half cup of butter and two tablespoons of vegetable shortening. And, more importantly, I use salted butter in both the apples and the pastry. When Deb tried my Tarte Tatin for the first time, the first thing out of her mouth (besides “MMMMM!”) was, “Salted butter caramel?” Right on. A savory element takes apple desserts (indeed, most desserts) from merely delicious to addictively scrumptious. As for using all butter instead of a combination of butter and shortening in the crust, I think the flavor is superior. As long as all your ingredients are very cold and you work quickly, your crust will be tender and flaky–no vegetable shortening is necessary.

ready for the lidtucking in the crust

I’ve tried this recipe using both cast-iron and stainless steel skillets. While many people seem to assume a cast-iron skillet is best for making Tarte Tatin, I’ve had superior results with this All-Clad stainless steel pan. I am lucky enough to have an array of vintage All-Clad, which belongs to my landladies, at my disposal in the apartment. I am not sure when it was manufactured, but our friend Alexis said that my pots and pans are heavier than the stainless currently produced by All-Clad under the same series name. Deb and I tested Alexis’ hypothesis on the Smitten Kitchen Digital Scale and found that mine did, in fact, weigh 2 ounces more than hers. My extra-heavy Magic Pan might be the secret to the perfect Tarte Tatin. I am loathe to make it with any other piece of equipment. Of course, I encourage all of you to try.

molly's apple tarte tatin

I admit, the recipe sounds kind of scary. Apples boiling in a cup of sugar and a stick of butter on the stove at HIGH heat for nearly 20 minutes?! One might think the caramel would burn, or the apples would stick. But have faith. If you wimp out and use lower heat, the apples will cook too slowly and they’ll start to disintegrate, and then they really WILL stick to the pan. (This happened to me once. I had to start over, and since I don’t have a garbage disposal, that meant figuring out how to dispose of a whole skillet full of blazing-hot sugary fruit. I couldn’t just switch to another pan–remember, this is the Magic Pan we‘re talking about!) Another rejoinder: don’t skimp on the caramelization time. If you don’t caramelize on the stovetop for long enough, your Tarte Tatin will come out of the oven a gritty, runny, inedible mess. You must watch the pan carefully, though, because about 10 or 15 seconds can mean the difference between perfect, deep caramelization and burnt apples.

The upside: this recipe is a delight even for cooks who aren’t normally nuts about baking; the stovetop caramelization is a fragrant, fascinating process. Plus, the result is incredibly delicious, as everyone at Deb’s house on Thursday night will attest. [Ed note: Indeed, it was the very best part of Vice-President Debate Night!]

molly's apple tarte tatin

Two years ago: Classic Brownies

Deb and Alex went to Paris and all I got was this awesome tarte tatin! Yes, it’s true. Alex and I have flown the coop this week and are (hopefully) wandering around ancient cobblestone streets in a haze of wine and butter. Comment responses will be slow–if at all–this week, but I have fortunately been cooking up enough of a storm that you should never be left without your smitten kitchen fix!

Molly’s Apple Tarte Tatin
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 stick plus two tablespoons cold salted butter (5 ounces), cut into cubes and chilled in freezer
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

7 medium apples (I’ve had good results with Granny Smith, Gala, McIntosh…use your favorite, but make sure they are very firm, fresh and flavorful.)
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Prepare Crust: I always use the food processor for this. Pre-mix the flour and sugar in the food processor container, and cube the butter on a plate. Then put the dry ingredients and the butter in the freezer for a while. This will get everything, including the blade and container, nice and chilled. The colder everything is, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Prepare about 1/3 cup ice water and refrigerate.

After you’ve chilled everything for at least 20 minutes, add the cubes of butter to dry ingredients and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than tiny peas.

Add the ice water a little at a time, processing just until the dough starts to come together into a mass. (it won’t quite be a “ball,” and it won‘t look smooth–you don’t want to overprocess it!) Turn out onto well-floured surface and pat together into a ball. Don’t handle the dough too much, or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter. Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters–the quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended.

Shake/tap the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom. Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife.

Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes.

Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the whole shebang so the Tarte Tatin drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful! Don’t burn yourself or drop stuff! If you are feeble and clumsy, get someone stronger and more coordinated than you to do this. Peek under the edge of the pan to see if the Tarte came out. You may need to bop the bottom of the pan with your potholder-encased fist for this to happen. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be. Voila! A beautiful TREAT!

This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving for optimum enjoyment.

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